Learning to say ‘No’: How to Set Guilt-Free Healthy Boundaries

Want to learn to say no without feeling guilty and set healthy boundaries in your life?  When do you start putting your needs before others?

To live a full, authentic and joyful life, personal boundaries are a must.

Most people don’t get lessons on how to set personal, emotional and physical boundaries. There are no boundary-setting classes in school. Rarely, do parents sit their kids down to teach them about saying “no” the way they might about  saying “thank you.”

I have worked with countless people who fear saying no. They fear standing up for their needs and wants, even when the consequences of holding back the truth is life-altering. They feel guilty and undeserving. They show up in my office (after years of nearly boundary-less living) drained, sad, anxious and lifeless. Each has a different scenario, but they all start end with agreeing to be or do something that isn’t true to them.

Some have walked down the aisle and said “I do” out of guilt, knowing they didn’t want to marry their spouse. Others have stayed in loveless, disrespectful and unhappy relationships for many years because saying “no” was too scary, too hard, or too threatening.Some have continually agreed to give and do and be all that others wanted of them, even when they were shown no respect or love, in order to avoid saying “No. No, thank you.”

It’s not easy to assert your own needs, to speak vulnerably about what you want and to put your needs in front of others.

We all crave love and fear that by saying “no” we will make those around us love us less (or worse yet, stop loving us altogether).

So, instead, we love ourselves less and sacrifice who we are with the hope to hold onto love from others. This begs the question – If someone is to love you any less for speaking from your heart and for loving yourself, did they love the real you anyway?

Of course, once you begin setting boundaries, it may take people a little while to get used to your new ways, but those who truly love you will love and respect you more (in the long run) for being authentic.

YOU will love you more too!

Start here for steps to healthy boundary-setting:

  1. Tune in to yourself (thoughts, feelings, sensations): When you notice yourself becoming resentful or regularly complaining about someone, notice it! Notice what your body feels like when your experience is that of a victim. These are some straightforward signs that you probably need to set a boundary or two.
  2. Get real with yourself: Ask these questions to make sense of your ambivalence about saying “no” –What’s the cost of saying “yes” when my body and my heart are saying “no”? How does saying “yes” support being authentic and how does it honor my sense of self? How will I feel afterwards, if I say “yes” when I really mean “no”? By saying “no” what are all the things I’m saying “yes” to instead?
  3. Give yourself permission: Saying “yes” to your needs and caring for yourself in this way will lead to self-liberation. You are the most important person in your life. Give yourself permission to choose self-care over self-sabotage. Give yourself permission to say “Yes” to you, to love yourself well, and to live your most authentic life. You so deserve it!*
  4. Baby steps: Start small. Pick a boundary that may feel a little outside of your comfort zone instead of the biggest scariest ones. Like anything else, it’s a process and the more you practice, the easier it gets!

*If you don’t feel like you deserve to put yourself first or it’s too scary to assert your authenticity, notice this with a loving eye. Begin to do some deep discovery with yourself on where this belief originates within your history and how it reverberates in your body. Take stock on your self-esteem in other areas of your life, aside from those situations that require you to set personal boundaries. If this kind of exploration feels too difficult to do alone, consider seeking out professional help to uncover and rebuild your confidence. It’s never too late to begin loving yourself.

When will you choose to say “Yes” to YOU?!


P.S. Take this quiz to help you tune into your mind-body connection.

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